Bishop Eric Menees
Last Sunday we celebrated “Good Shepherd Sunday.” After three weeks of joining the disciples in the upper room, this - the fourth week in Easter - we remembered Jesus’ statements about himself. Jesus declared: “I am the Good Shepherd!” Seven times in the gospel of John, Jesus makes statements like this:
I AM the bread of life (John 6:51).
I AM the Light of the world (John 8:14).
I AM the gate to the sheepfold (John 10:9).
I AM the Good Shepherd (John 10:11).
I AM the Resurrection and the life (John 11:25).
I AM the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).
I AM the vine and you are the branches. (John 15:5)
In the first century, it would have been impossible to hear these statements and not hear the voice of God as recorded in Exodus 3:14, when Moses asks God:
13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
So, when Jesus says I AM, the clear claim is that he is God! No wonder the religious leaders were upset with Jesus. Of course, post resurrection we know that Jesus was not making an outlandish claim – he was stating the truth. And get this: the Lord of the Universe - the Good Shepherd - wants you to be in relationship with you!
A while back, there was a story floating around on the internet; one of that stories that people send around. Normally I don’t keep them, but sometimes they end up in my ”Sermon Illustration” file.
It seems that a famous actor was once the guest of honor at a social gathering, where he received many requests to recite favorite excerpts from various literary works. An old preacher, who happened to be there, asked the actor to recite the 23rd Psalm. The actor agreed, on the condition that the preacher would recite it also. The actor’s recitation was beautifully intoned with great dramatic emphasis, for which he received a lengthy standing ovation. The preacher’s voice was rough and broken from many years of preaching, and his dictation was anything but polished. But when he finished, there was neither applause nor a dry eye in the room. After the gala had concluded, someone asked the actor what made the difference in the Psalm. He replied: “I know the Psalm, but he knows the Good Shepherd.”
The question for us today is: when we read the 23rd Psalm, or we read the tenth chapter of the gospel of John where Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd,” do we know the Shepherd? Do you know the Shepherd?
I pray you all a blessed week!